Born To Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All Its Moods
As someone with hardly any knowledge of Yiddish, parts of it were pretty boring and useless. Although all of the cultural aspects were fun to read about, sometimes it seems like pages and pages of a phrase in Yiddish followed by its English translation. All of that went "into my left ear ...more
The book starts out well, explaining the mindset that gave rise to a language like Yiddish that has no homeland. However, Wex quickly turned the rest of the book into a litany of definitions. Without knowing any Yiddish at all, or even how it's c ...more
Wex does not spare his readers the socioli ...more
The world Wex describes is alien to me. After reading this, I understood why my ancestors were so prou ...more
Being a language dilettante with a soft spot for dead or rare literary languages, I was pretty fascinated with Yiddish going in. Learning about Yiddish culture has cooled that somewhat since it seems so heavily permeated with religion.
Since Yiddish heavily borrows from German and Hebrew, perhaps I'll take a stab at learning it when I already ...more
On Yiddish reflecting the Jewish condition of exile: "Judaism is defined by exile, and exile without complaint is tourism, not deportation."
On a phrase that translates as "lying in the gro ...more
The author not only does a great job explaining the history and linguistics of ...more
I've never been more aware (or r ...more
This is a fascinating book. Wex uses every inch of his background from Jewish childhood to stand-up comedian to Yiddish scholar to expound and sometimes skewer the language he loves. It's an easy love to see.
Overall, Born to Kvetch is a nice balance of humour and erudition. It clips along nicely, loosely stringing sections together and giving a breath of a laugh between heavy translation. Some of the text is a little dense, but Wex skilfully lightens it just when your head is starting to spin. R...more
At any rate, the linguistic explanations did bring warm back memories of many of my grandfather's favorite expressions: "A nekhtik ...more
You don't have to be Jewish to enjoy this book.
This is a genuinely funny book. The author has a great sense of history and humor. I like reading books by authors with a strong voice and Michael Wex most definitely transports you. I learned a lot about Jewish culture by reading this book but I also learned a lot about the nature of complaining (kvetching).
In reading this book, you learn a ton about Yiddish. I don't think I realized how much Yiddish has pervaded colloquial American English until...more
I had the book out on my coffee table the other day and I asked people to tell me what they thought the book was about. None of them guessed right because they had never heard the word kvetch! So much for a good education!
Honestly, being of an optimistic nature, I get annoyed at people who compl ...more
The remaining eight ...more